The majority of worker’s compensation claims in Minnesota tend to stay under the radar. There are no lawyers, conferences, trials, settlements, or major disputes. Minor injury claims in which the person will recover quickly are often taken care of quickly without the need for legal involvement. The worker’s compensation system is designed to settle cases in a timely manner while efficiently compensating the injured party by paying for medical bills and working to get that person back to work as quickly as possible. When all as it should, everyone wins.
Unfortunately, it is not always so simple. Some cases face various complications that require the assistance of an attorney. Sometimes worker’s comp lawyers can simply provide guidance and answer questions when the injured worker is unclear about the requirements and limitations. In other situations, attorneys need to be hired to represent the worker when the insurance company disputes the claim.
There are some steps everyone can take during the course of reporting a work injury in Minnesota that can help avoid unnecessary obstacles. While these will not apply to every case, keeping these points in mind can help the process move along more smoothly.
Be prompt and accurate
This is perhaps the most important measure to take when reporting a work injury. After being hurt, the worker should report it to the employer or supervisor as quickly as is realistically possible. Time limits do exist, and if too much time passes, the claim can be denied and the person will not be compensated. Most employers have a form to fill out, but the notification must take place as soon as the injury happens unless the worker is somehow incapacitated. If the injury was not caused by any specific accident but there is reason to believe it was caused by work activities (i.e. repetitive injuries), notice must still be given immediately.
Accuracy is also important. Any and all symptoms that arise as a result of the injury should be listed in the injury report. If new symptoms develop after the incident, notify the employer that it will also be included in the claim.
Seek prompt medical attention
Most people prefer to avoid visiting the doctor whenever possible. However, in the event of a work-related injury, it is important to schedule a visit as soon as possible so the worker’s medical condition can be accurately documented. Should the claim be denied, medical records can be used to prove the case. It is also important to ensure that the doctor understands all related injuries and how they occurred. This information could prove crucial to successfully fighting a claim dispute.
Keep the doctor up to date
Sometimes a doctor will allow the worker to return to their job, albeit with restrictions in place. Should work activities prove aggravating to the injury or it turns out job duties cannot be performed, the worker should inform their primary care provider immediately. Restrictions can be modified or issues can be discussed with the insurer and employer when they first arise – before they become a significant problem.
Follow medical advice and restrictions
Everyone knows that one person who bucks the doctor’s orders at every turn. When there is a worker’s compensation claim in process, this is not a good idea. If a medical professional recommends certain types of treatment or some form of physical therapy, follow through. Besides being the wiser option for fully recovering from the injury, doing so will keep the doctor supportive of the work injury claim. A dispute may arise during the legal process, at which point someone may ask a medical professional to write up a report. That report is much more likely to be helpful for the claimant’s side of the argument if he or she has been compliant with treatment recommendations.
Do not quit or refuse a job without legal consultation
Dealing with the legal system in any venue can be a lengthy and frustrating process. Some workers get so fed up and angry with the insurance company or their employer that they quit the job and simply walk away. Tempting as this may seem, it can have an extremely negative impact to a person’s benefit eligibility, both now and in the future. Avoid doing anything rash. Instead, consult with an attorney and ask questions. Get information on injured worker’s rights. Do not quit the job and then call a lawyer. By then, his hands may be tied and he will be unable to help.
Be aware of surveillance
It is not uncommon for injured workers to exaggerate their symptoms or be otherwise dishonest in the course of their claims. For this reason, insurance companies can become suspicious and hire private investigators to keep an eye on claimants. They will follow the individual around and document daily activities. Should they record evidence of the injured worker ignoring medical restrictions, it can damage the case and jeopardize the claim. With or without restrictions, workers with injury claims should always assume that they are being watched and remember to follow the doctor’s recommendations at all times.
An important point to remember is that insurance companies hire experienced claim adjusters that are concerned with looking out for their own interests and the company’s bottom line. They are not looking out for the injured workers who file the claims. When questions and concerns arise, consider hiring an attorney to represent your case. Contact our office to schedule an initial consultation.